Italy should leave the European Union unless there is a decisive shift toward populist parties in European Parliament elections in May, according to a prominent member of the far-right League party, part of the country’s two-party ruling coalition.
Italian government bond yields jumped on Claudio Borghi’s comments, which revived concerns about Rome’s commitment to the euro common currency, but later settled back.
League leader Matteo Salvini and a leading lawmaker from his coalition partner, the 5-Star Movement, denied there were any plans to leave the EU.
“Either we succeed in changing (Europe) now, or we will have to leave,” Borghi, chairman of the lower house budget committee and the League’s economics spokesman, said, referring to the European election.
“I think this is the last opportunity,” Borghi said at a conference on Europe in Milan, calling the European project “disastrous and toxic”.
Responding to the comments, party leader Salvini said: “We have no intention to exit Europe. We want to change it, improve it, but not abandon it.”
Salvini has regularly denounced EU officials in Brussels as unelected bureaucrats and blames them for Italy’s economic and public finance difficulties.
Salvini is allied with far-right groups in other EU countries and is working with U.S. President Donald Trump’s former political strategist Steve Bannon to build a network of parties opposed to closer European integration.
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